Edinburgh council appeal for families to host young unaccompanied asylum seekers

The number of young people in need of care who have experienced the trauma of war, poverty or trafficking is on the rise.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 6:00 am
In total 25 young asylum seekers arrived in Edinburgh compared to nine the year before.

A new campaign aiming to recruit families to look after young unaccompanied asylum-seekers arriving in the Capital has been launched by the City of Edinburgh Council.

Last year saw an increase in the number of young people aged 16 years and over coming to the city from a range of countries across the Middle East and North Africa as well as Vietnam.

In total 25 arrived in Edinburgh compared to nine the year before.

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Many speak little or no English when they arrive and have often experienced the trauma of war, poverty or trafficking.

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Councillor Ian Perry, Convener for Education, Children and Families said: “This is a really rewarding role as the young people who arrive here face uncertainty about their future life in the United Kingdom.

“We need families who can provide a safe, nurturing environment to support them into independence and I would urge anyone who may be considering being a host family to contact us for more information.”

Hosts can be married, single or in a partnership, employed or unemployed and enquiries are welcome from all cultures and backgrounds.

While it is beneficial to have experience with caring for young people, training, support and financial allowance are all provided.

Councillor Alison Dickie, Vice Convener said: “We will always put young people at the heart of any decisions we make and this is so important when it comes to unaccompanied asylum seekers from different parts of the world.

“This is an opportunity for Edinburgh families to show their support and compassion for young people who have experienced terrible trauma whether as a result of a war-torn conflict or being trafficked.”

One host named John, whos name has been changed, has been fostering a 17-year-old Vietnamese boy in his family since 2018.

He said: “Being a host family is a fascinating and rewarding experience in which both sides, carers and young people, can learn from each other, open minds and build relationships despite cultural and language differences and life’s inevitable challenges.”

Another host, known as Sandra, is part of a family who took in a 16-year-old trafficked Vietnamese boy last year who has now ‘blossomed’ into an incredible young man who has very much become part of their family.

She said: “We were initially a bit worried about how this would all work out as we both work; and whether we would have the capacity and the skills to manage a trafficked young person but we learned slowly and so did he and we treated him like we would treat our own children.

“We have been humbled by the respect, joy and fun that he has brought to our family home.”

Those interested in finding out more about becoming a host family for young people who are unaccompanied asylum seekers should contact the council on on either 0131 529 2773 or 0800 174 833.